ACL Interview: Jimmy Eat World

2:30pm, Samsung Galaxy stage

ACL Interview: Jimmy Eat World
Photo by Gary Miller

You may not have realized it, but Jimmy Eat World are veterans. Releasing albums since 1994, they've built a legacy out of Arizona's secluded Mesa and cemented their artistic cred early in the new millennium with the classic one-two punch of Clarity and Bleed American. This year's Damage arrived bitter, clean, and freshly wounded. They've never stopped, and neither have the kids.

"I don't like to look backwards," says singer Jim Adkins by cell phone before a show in Newcastle. "I can, and there's always stuff maybe you'd like to change. But you can't beat yourself up about that. You're always working on the threshold of your best abilities. There's no way you can't be proud of it."

Jimmy Eat World never left the American Southwest that birthed them. They've always maintained a heightened level of sensitivity, something common with the dozens of frantic bands amongst the sunbaked hills. Children of the desert tend to be a little more vulnerable.

"There's no arts infrastructure, and maybe that inspired kids to make something for themselves," says Adkins, who still lives in the Phoenix area. "Obviously people do great work out there, but maybe it's a little harder for people to break out and rally critical support. It doesn't feel connected."

Adkins will always be known for his youthfulness, his earlier songs having captured an irreplaceable moment of emo-pop success. Don't think that's his destiny, though. His songwriting never stopped developing.

"I used to write a lot about discovery," he says. "That kinda goes hand in hand with being younger. But there's plenty of inspiration to take from where you're at [in life]. There's all sorts of gnarly stuff around you to write about."

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